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I keep finding myself reflecting on two aspects of the Midwest roatrip vacation. The first were moments when scrottie got especially anxious and keyed up while anticipating phone calls from a client, feelings that are totally understandable in the face of uncertain connectivity in unfamiliar environments. I know that he strongly prefers to be by himself under such circumstances because having another person around just adds to the stress, even if the other person is trying to be as small and quiet and helpful as possible.

The second aspect related to decision-making about how to complete the journey, and second-guessing of those decisions. It's tempting to think that, in modern times, it should be straightforward to take a working vacation. In practice, however, I think it's a terrible idea. We decided to rent a car and drive from Lincoln to California for two reasons. First, it would be cheaper than the train and second, in theory there would be a better cell data signal along the interstates as compared to the train route.

A nice idea, but one that is highly dependent on the cell carrier. I've never had a good cell signal with AT&T while in the Nebraska countryside, and if I'd wanted to switch to Verizon I would have had to get a new phone that's compatible with their network.

It's difficult to concentrate in the face of changing and uncertain connectivity. I have definitely found this to be the case during periods when I couldn't afford to have internet access at home. This frustration led to a strong sense of regret and second-guessing over the decision to rent a car and drive, even though there was no clear better alternative.

So now I am left reflecting on the experience of the trip, both the positive aspects and the aspects I struggled with. I generally prefer to make a decision and be at peace with it, but at the same time the emotion and experience of regret can be an important and powerful teacher. I can tell that some aspects of the trip helped me let go of some of the underlying stress that had been building up in California, and we went to places and did things that were great. I am grateful for those experiences and memories, especially that journey on Highway 50. But I have a strong sense that I don't want to repeat that kind of trip again.

One of the other benefits of travel is the perspective it offers on our lives at home. Yesterday I encountered an article about burnout and could definitely say yes, I've been teetering on that dangerous edge. Large urban areas such as this one offer up too many opportunities. The array of decisions about what to do and participate in can become overwhelming. In the face of it all, I think I want and need to continue focusing my efforts and energies. I still haven't quite found or created the quiet thinking space that I crave.

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June 2018


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